Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a pregnancy. No matter how far along you are when it happens, finding out there is no longer a heartbeat or that the pregnancy is no longer viable can be soul-crushing. Something important to keep in mind — whether you're the one who has experienced a loss, or it's a friend or family member — is there's no right way to grieve. Some prefer to do so privately, while others need to lean on loved ones. And Joy-Anna Duggar's photos with her stillborn daughter show the grieving mom has a lot of family support.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article includes images of a stillborn infant.
If you're a Counting On fan, then you probably know that Joy-Anna and her husband, Austin, announced in May that they were expecting their second child, according to People. However, on Thursday, July 4, the Forsyths revealed to their fans and Instagram followers that Joy-Anna had suffered a miscarriage. They learned the heartbreaking news during the anatomy scan at the halfway point of the pregnancy, according to Us Weekly.
"Today marks one week since we heard these words…. 'So this is your baby’s heart (pointing to the ultrasound screen). I don’t hear a heartbeat or see any movement.' We had gone in for our 20-week ultrasound and gender reveal. It was a baby girl," they wrote, adding they decided to name her Annabell Elise.
On Friday, July 5, Joy and Austin shared a series of photos honoring the baby they had lost via Instagram, E! Online reported. "We only had her for 20 weeks," they wrote. "Life is fragile and precious. So thankful the Lord gave her to us for that short time! She will be in our hearts forever!" Joy-Anna also thanked her followers for their prayers — as well has her friend, Carlin Bates, for doing her hair and makeup for the photos they took with their stillborn baby.
The first photo shows Austin sitting next to Joy-Anna — who is holding the baby wrapped up in a blanket. In the second photo, Joy and her BFF Carlin Bates are sitting next to each other for a picture. The third photo has a lot going on. Joy-Anna is holding the baby with Austin by her side — and the grieving parents are surrounded by Joy's sister, Jill Dillard, and her mom, Michelle Duggar. In the fourth and final photo, you can see tiny footprints next to a quarter.
Family, friends, and followers all shared words of comfort on Instagram, too. Joy-Anna's sister-in-law Lauren Duggar — who is expecting her first child with Josiah after suffering a miscarriage in October — wrote, "She is such a gift! Forever loved!"
Carlin Bates commented, "You’re in my thoughts night and day. I love you so much and I’m so honored to call you my friend. You’re my hero!"
Others shared their own stories of loss. "I know this pain too well," one follower wrote, "I lost my stillborn daughter at 21 weeks. The hardest and saddest day ever. Having to deliver her naturally then spending hours with her after is something I will never forget. I'm so sorry you are going through this. It doesn't get easier it just gets more bearable."
Another Instagram user wrote, "Thank you for being so brave to share this pain. So many women go through this and feel so many negative emotions about sharing."
As devastated as Joy-Anna and Austin must be, it seems they are deriving comfort from their religion in the wake of their loss. Judging by their recent photos, it's clear the grieving parents have the support of so many people who love them, too. My thoughts are with them during this difficult time.